My Summer has been rather exciting, so far.
To start, Liminal Space traveled up to Norman, Oklahoma back in May. We had a performance at the University of Oklahoma for the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy on May 19h. Also performing in Norman that night was Mother Nature. As I was leaving our hotel room to head to our rehearsal, some serious dark clouds rolled in and it started to hail. No sprinkles. No thunderous warning shots. Just pea-sized hail. As my luck goes, I took a stupidly wrong turn and headed down the highway through the hail, now accompanied by a torrential downpour. Once I was about a mile from the hotel, I hear off in the distance what sounded like an air raid siren. The sound of a tornado siren for the first time is rather frightening when you are driving alone in an unfamiliar place. The hail strengthened and grew to the size of marbles, and I managed to survive after finding a gas station awning to pull under. To my surprise later that evening, a tornado had in fact touched down and caused some tremendous damage nearby. The next night, nature’s encore would prove to be especially disastrous for Moore, Ok, which was just up the road from the conference in Norman.
I posted the flyer on this site for the Forecast Music performance of my piece Shifting Landscape in Winston-Salem. The performance was lovely, and I got to make a few new friends. My original plan for my off-time in Winston-Salem were to take a little time to explore the city and have some solid me-time. However, the hotel I booked was several miles north of downtown, and apparently a little out of the way for the ensemble members. No bus. Cabs weren’t cheap. I got the me-time I wanted, but in the comfort of my hotel room. It was relaxing and I was able to begin work on a new piece for violinist Nicholas Baker. Before my flight out, I did get to travel to Raleigh for a bit.
The week following that trip was marked by a number of rehearsals and a performance of a number brand new songs that were written in rather short amount of time. The Houston Grand Opera’s community outreach arm, HGOco, put together a wonderful collaborative project that set poetry by fourth and fifth grade students to music by several composers from the University of Houston. I was amazed to find that I can churn out three brand new songs in a week’s time! The project was a blast and culminated in a wonderful performance. Here is a brief article that goes into a little more detail.
On June 2nd, Liminal Space had the final concert of our inaugural season. The program included Marc Mellits’ Black, John Cage’s In a Landscape, Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, and two world premieres by Mark Buller and Eric Martin. The concert was great, I absolutely had a blast performing Electric Counterpoint. It felt very special to be present brand new music to a very supportive audience. The performance was even reviewed by andrew Sigler on NewMusicBox!
Liminal Space has had a very lucky season opener, as far as press goes. In July, Liminal Space was included in an Arts and Culture article on adventurous programming. Also on the list are a host of Houston’s heavy hitter ensembles and presenters, many of whom I have looked up to over the years. It is very humbling to be on that list, but it is also extremely exciting and a tad bit validating!
My summer wouldn’t be complete without spending five weeks teaching music with many of Houston’s finest musicians to many of Houston’s finest high schoolers at American Festival for the Arts. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this organization for the last few years.
LASTLY, I finished the song cycle that has been mentioned numerous times on this blog. I collaborated with Misha Penton, who wrote a fantastic set of poems based on fairytales. We started talking about this project back in December 2011/January 2012. Sometime shortly after that, she began sending me various texts and poems to be set to music. At the time, my intentions were to have the songs finished by the end of the Summer of 2012. “By September” was my mantra. Well, as things can go with schedules, mine began to take on a different set priorities that required more and more of my time. I was called to teach a couple of classes at UH, ReGifting Lions had its premiere and run, Liminal Space began, and Cthulhu rose! September turned into November, which turned into December, into Spring, into mid-May, and finally into June…of 2013. What eventually solidified things was finally sitting down and setting a date. DEADLINES! Those things definitely help get the ball rolling. I’m pleased that tonight we will be premiering ravens and radishes: a telling of tales, a song cycle for soprano, electric guitar, and cello. With the help of cellist Daniel Saenz, we are showing this thing off at a private house concert, which will be followed up by a week of recording the piece. Other performances are in the works and likely to surface soon! On a similar note, also on the house concert program will be another piece of mine for mezzo-soprano and marimba, called Slumber. The words were written by Pant Factory vocalist Ben Cunningham. This is the third performance of this piece, and it sounds great in the hands of Luke Hubley and Misha. Expect an audio clip very soon!
The next big “thing” after this recording is the weekend beach vacation that my family will be sharing with some close friends.